Craig A. Carter | Is there a place for Christians in the emerging “conservative” fusionism?
Dave Rubin appears on the set of “Candace.”Getty Images/Photo by Jason Kempin
At the recent National Conservative Conference, a panel discussed the possibility of a “new fusionism” among conservatives. In the post-World War II era, traditional conservatives, libertarians, and anti-Communists joined together to form the modern conservative movement. But now, odd political realignments are occurring outside of the traditional fusionism project. The growing strain of anti-wokism is producing a coalition of unlikely allies who share a certain set of goals, but who are chiefly animated by their disgust with the reign of leftism.
The panel’s makeup was an eyeopener. First, there was Yoram Hazony, an orthodox Jew who advocates for America re-claiming its heritage as a Christian nation. Next was the Catholic Integralist, Sohrab Ahmari. Then add the British journalist Douglas Murray and Dave Rubin, two gay men representing classical liberalism. There was no evangelical Protestant on the stage.
The topic was the feasibility of a new conservative coalition consisting of a libertarianism that affirms same-sex marriage and a rather old-fashioned American civil religion in which the Christian majority would promote a Judeo-Christian public morality. The urgency to create such an unlikely coalition arises from the threat of a powerful worldview that is in the process of taking political power using the Democratic Party as its vehicle. Political power is within its grasp because of its massive cultural dominance in universities, public schools, Hollywood, Big Tech, multinational corporations, and so forth.
The two-party (liberal v. conservative) system that has persisted through most of modern American history has broken down. We now have a three-cornered battle between the Marxist Left and traditional conservatives, with liberalism as a third but increasingly irrelevant party. When the Left calls liberals who speak up in defense of free speech “fascists,” they mean it. For them, everyone who disagrees with their ideology is the enemy.
For 60 years now, liberals have been negotiating a step-by-step surrender to the radical Left. It started with university administrators negotiating with Students for a Democratic Society instead of expelling them. Fast forward six decades, and the “long march through the institutions” has resulted in leftist hegemony over education, entertainment, and so on. Liberals want to join the conservative movement because they are being forced out of their own institutions.
The liberals are even bigger losers in the culture wars than evangelical Christians. So, how much value do they bring to the conservative movement? They have no metaphysics, no natural law, no divine revelation, no absolute truth—just procedural liberalism for carving out the space for individuals to “self-actualize.” This was always a recipe for the dissolution of tradition, social order, and peace.
Since liberalism is empty to its philosophical core as a governing vision for society, it cannot resist when unbridled ideologues become clever enough to frame their demands in the therapeutic language of self-actualization they learned from the liberals. Liberalism always collapses before a determined, ideologically driven foe. The Left uses liberalism to weaken the bonds of tradition for its own purposes, which, as Rubin and Murray have belatedly come to see, are totalitarian and much more dangerous for minorities than Christendom ever was.
The moment the wheels came off for me was when Rubin casually tossed out the comment that he and his “partner” are thinking about having kids. That, of course, is biologically impossible. God did not design for offspring to result from two males or two females, but the conjugal union of husband and wife. What Rubin means is surrogate motherhood, which rents a mother’s womb and severs the child’s development from the need of a mother. It is its own radical proposal pushed off as routine. There is no such thing and never has been, or could ever be, any such thing as same-sex “marriage.” To claim that there is such a thing is to live in unreality where words don’t have any stable meaning.
And do the panels’ liberals think transgenderism is beyond the pale? Transgenderism is the logical extension of their own beliefs. Natural marriage is a man and a woman living in a life-long covenant that is open to children. Once you tinker with natural marriage, you destabilize the complementarity inherent to marriage, eventually removing gender from nature altogether and placing it under the arbitrary control of human will.
Rubin and Murray may think they are close to conservatism, but they are destroying the traditional wisdom they hope will protect them. They are progressives driving the speed limit who often say profoundly true things, but that is about it. Instead of forming a coalition with them, we should defend the metaphysical order of Christianity as the only building block for society to conform itself to—not for Christianity’s own power, but for the sake of truth, human flourishing, and the common good. The question is what is going to replace liberalism. Will it be a new totalitarianism or a return to traditional wisdom bequeathed from the Judeo-Christian worldview?
Craig A. Carter is Research Professor of Theology at Tyndale University in Toronto, Ontario, and theologian in residence at Westney Heights Baptist Church in Ajax, Ontario.